Why Data Analytics Will Transform Your Client Relationships


When people discuss the future, they talk about data. Data drives strategy in advertising, social media, the internet of things, cyber security and even client-agency relationships. The more connected and convenient things become, the more everything feels tracked, logged, categorized and analyzed. Call it scary if you want; but an agency of the future will consider it inevitable.

That inevitability can put our client relationships at risk if we ignore the advantages data provides and refuse to change our approach. So how do we avoid being run over by the data revolution?

As data analysis professionals, we have first-hand experience of the powerful impact data can have in our client relationships. Specifically, the progressive integration of online media with social media has the potential to cause huge shifts in the field of communications measurement. Editors and journalists already measure article interest by monitoring likes, comments and shares and amplifying their stories on Facebook to generate further conversation.

It isn’t a huge leap to see how performance metrics such as shares, likes, and positive comments can influence the media’s receptiveness to an agency’s pitches and client stories. If journalists and media adopt these metrics for internal measurement, so too must agencies. Though established measurement tools have lagged behind the rapid changes taking place in social media, we have adopted data and social media metrics to engage with our clients in different ways, from the outset and throughout our relationships:

We use historical program and social data to derive market insights and develop intelligent strategies for new and existing clients. New business pitches depicting strategic scenarios have always included market research, but now are also backed by years of insights collected from similar clients trying to reach similar markets or demographics. Data visualization tools help to communicate conclusions in a way that mere words cannot.

We integrate with social media tools to see message pull-through and monitor reader engagement. We measure content beyond impressions, looking for key messages, topics and reader response.

We connect our information across clients and programs to tell stories and show trends beyond immediate strategies. Now that we know how our markets and readers react to specific topics and key outlets, we can be more strategic and selective in our initiatives.

In the future, we will see even more changes:

In the medium term, social media networks have already begun integrating closely with online content (like buttons, comments, shares) — but as they figure out how to navigate data monetization and privacy concerns, social media will share online media pull-through. “Dark social,” social conversation which cannot be measured with today’s tools, will come into the light and take us beyond volume (impressions, AVE) metrics and into reader impact strategies.

In the long term, data will help us differentiate between filler articles and impactful coverage, helping us to better close the loop on how our efforts move consumers to read, to share and to act.

Forward-thinking agencies have always looked beyond traditional metrics to show clients new perspectives and value. But, in the same way that social media and digital advertising have made advertising leaner, more bite-sized and focused, our own data future will lead us to more specific initiatives that drive key messages and create clearly measurable pull-through to target audiences.

We will use data to understand how client initiatives affect readers rather than journalists. Clients will not see these new perspectives as value additions, they will view them as necessary metrics, sooner rather than later.

So, how do we avoid being run over by the connected world? By getting ahead of it.